Karen Lynch CEO of Belu Water talks about the importance of World Water Day and how it inspires Belu to do business differently.
UN World Water Day, held annually on 22 March, focuses world attention on the importance of water. It provides an opportunity for us all to learn more about water related issues and the role we can play in addressing challenges. It’s a day for us to each tell stories behind the staggering statistics, with the goal of inspiring others to act, and to drive progress.
At Belu, we believe there is a better way to do business. That we can each do more than simply aim to make money. We believe that by working together we can contribute to solving some of the world’s biggest problems at the same time. Specifically, that we can play our part in achieving Global Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation for all – of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to reach the 1 in 3 people on the planet that don’t have a decent toilet of their own, and 1 in 9 who don’t have clean water close to home.
Reducing our impact on the environment
The theme of this year’s World Water Day is Nature for Water. As businesses and consumers, we’re more aware of the need, and feeling more responsibility than ever, to reduce our impact on the environment.
Our business model at Belu is really simple. We trade though providing mineral water in bottles, filtration systems and carafes to the UK’s hotel restaurant and catering sector. We recruit customers who become partners because we’re like-minded. Like-minded in that we both believe our products must have the best in class environmental credentials from a minimised footprint by sourcing raw materials in the UK, to making bottles from recycled bottles, to lightweight product design and smart distribution.
As partners, we trade a product that may cost a tiny bit more in pence, but it delivers a far better result in overall value for us all. Because in addition to the improved environmental credentials, together, the outlet and their customer are playing their part in helping to make clean water normal for everyone, everywhere, because all of Belu’s profits go to WaterAid.
Belu chooses to give its profits to WaterAid, but this is only possible because of the incredible support and collaboration of the businesses in the UK’s hotel restaurant and catering sector who have actively chosen to make a more ethical choice in their supply chain.
So, on this World Water Day, we announce a total of 202,577 lives worldwide have been transformed with clean water through investing our profits into WaterAid, but we first stop to say an enormous thank you to every single business who has chosen Belu. The #BeluWaterStories behind the statistics are those of the lives transformed through a business making a conscious choice to focus on value, or planetary cost in addition to margin. Read more about this in our #BeluWaterStories book.
This year many Belu partners are poised to share their #BeluWaterStories, so following our hashtag may just give you some inspiration on how you could ensure the water service in your business delivers an impact beyond the hydration of the person consuming it in the UK. Some of our partners will talk of the lives transformed as a result of the bottles sold to their customers, some will mention a move to Belu filtration systems.
I’m sure there will be a story relevant to you, so if the stories do inspire you, get in touch – or better still, share your water story.
Stories to inspire you to take a role in achieving Global Goal 6
And if you still need convincing that you can play a part in helping to achieve Global Goal 6, perhaps one of our stories from Madagascar will inspire some thinking. The Nature for Water theme of this World Water Day is also a perfect cue for me to share a #BeluWater story of a recent visit I made to our partner WaterAid’s work in Madagascar, where I had the enormous privilege of visiting communities in some of the most rural parts of the country.
As many of us might recall from the movie of the same name or in nature documentaries, Madagascar is indeed a sight like no other, but what I discovered was that this is from many angles. Incredible scenery, diverse wildlife (90% of which is unique to the island country), and beautiful warm people. Stunned by the beauty, I found it hard to comprehend these water-related statistics:
90% of the population of Madagascar don’t have access to a decent toilet.
45% of the population live without access to clean water.
The Government of Madagascar has been making plans to reach people with these essentials – but local governments and businesses lack the power or funding to move forward. Meanwhile, climate change is making water resources harder to protect than ever before.
The wonderful Madagascan people I met fell both sides of these statistical lines. First, I met Sabine, who was almost the same age as me. She’s also a mum and has been a teacher. Those things aside, our lives couldn’t be more different. Sabine’s village had no clean water which left her having to fetch water from a small dirty river. There were also no toilets. The river used for drinking water and washing is also shared with animals, and Sabine told me that there are many water related diseases in the village including Bilharzia.
Thankfully, just prior to our visit, WaterAid had confirmed a plan to install two pumps in the village with a gravity fed water system, and Sabine had been nominated to be the voluntary President of the committee responsible for overseeing water, sanitation and hygiene in the village. So, life will hopefully change for Sabine and her community and I can’t wait to hear about progress over the coming year.
Positive change when clean water arrives in a village
The story in the village of Ambatoantrano that I visited next could not have been more different. Here, I met Madame Holy. Her story inspired me and has brought to life how water is just the very beginning of all the positive change that follows once clean water arrives in a village.
The inspirational Madame Holy Photo credit: WaterAid/Sam James
Madame Holy told me how life had changed for the better since she didn’t have to waste time fetching water anymore, giving her more time to grow her shop business, and how the local community had been motivated to help build the gravity-fed water system because they were happy to be receiving clean water for the first time.
Our 2030 commitment
As we enter our eighth year of investing 100% of our net profits into WaterAid, we remain committed to playing our part in the achievement of Global Goal 6 to ensure water and sanitation for all by 2030, and doing the right thing for your business, and the planet.
Happy World Water Day
Read our book of #BeluWaterStories here.